There is so much wisdom to be found in our world. Sometimes all we have to do is pay close attention and take it all in.
In my town we have a quaint ‘main street’ that is filled with small independent shops, trendy cafes and unique restaurants. One person, however, that has made himself a much needed staple in the community is our local hot dog vendor. He provides a service that many business people in the area just couldn’t live without…. a quick, cheap lunch. He started a few years ago, and despite the intense competition he faces, he has continued to flourish year after year.
As teachers, I think we can glean some wisdom from the success of this hot dog vendor by leaning in and paying close attention to some simple secrets he possesses.
Three ‘Secrets’ of a Hot Dog Vendor
Location, Location, Location
A hot dog vendor can be successful if they are wise in choosing where they set up shop. My local hot dog vendor could have taken his cart to a remote location and spent tons of money on advertising in hopes to draw people to him, but that would have made no sense. Instead, he brought his cart to a place filled with walking traffic and hungry people. By coming to the people, instead of having them come to him, he found success.
As teachers, we often spend so much time trying to figure out ways to reach our students. We read the latest articles, try the newest fads and rack our brains trying to figure out just HOW to keep their interest. We spend so much time ‘marketing’ our lessons, in hopes to draw students to us, yet in the end we become frustrated. The key is location, location, location. We must be willing to meet them where they are by finding out exactly what interests them, what excites them and what gaps they need filled in order to achieve their goals. When we do this, everything else can fall into place.
A hot dog vendor does not need to guess what people want. He asks them, and then provides a quick customized lunch made just for the customer based on their input. Take the time to do the same for your students. Ask them what they need, how they learn best and what struggles you can help them overcome. Take their input and bring the knowledge to them. Be the guide that caters a path specifically designed for them to succeed, and do what it takes to meet them where they are.
Recognize the Need
The reason why my local hot dog vendor has become a staple in the community is because he has become desperately needed. People rely on him to provide them with the quick lunch they seek during their busy days and hectic schedules. The interesting thing, however, is that it has not always been this way. There was a time when there was no hot dog vendor in town, and people got by just fine. The genius here, is that the vendor was able to see a need years ago that the people themselves didn’t even realize they were looking for. It is in this foresight that we find wisdom.
As a teacher, you have a variety of students that come into your life each and every year. Some of them are very needy, others are extremely self sufficient, while still a few of them are somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where they may be on the spectrum, they all have one thing in common. They all have needs that sometimes they themselves don’t even realize. It is our job, as their teacher, to recognize those needs and do our best to help meet them.
A hot dog vendor meets a specific need. He provides food for hungry people. Our students are hungry in many different ways. Pay close attention to the hints your students give you regarding their needs. Often times, they may not know what they need most, but they will thank you for providing it once you do. Take the time to invest personally in your students in order to have the ability to recognize the needs they have without them having to tell you what they are.
Show Up Everyday
The most important aspect of the hot dog vendor’s success is what happens after he has found the location and recognized the need. It is the most simple, yet powerful action that must be taken. He must show up, consistently, each and every day.
As a teacher, it is critical to be consistent. Once you meet students where they are and you recognize what they need most in order to succeed, you must be willing to show up everyday to build on the foundation you have put into motion. Remember, teaching is not about you, it is about the many students you have in front of you. Give them the best chance possible to change the world by guiding them, supporting them and showing up everyday to serve.
A hot dog vendor shows up everyday and serves those who rely on him. A teacher does the same exact thing. In teaching some days will be filled with sunshine while others will consume you with storms. The key is to provide consistency through it all and have a willingness to show up for your students everyday. Give them the best you possible and set the example they need to see in order to thrive.
Meet students where they are with fun emoji feedback!